Navigation

Search This Site

A Division of the International Studies Office

Updates for International Students & Scholars

The International Studies Office (ISO), Office of the General Counsel, University Human Resources, the Office of the State Attorney General, and State appointed outside counsel on immigration continue to closely monitor interpretation, revision, and implementation of the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations on immigration and travel and related court decisions. ISO staff are also in regular communication with Student Affairs, colleagues at other universities, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Please note, UVA’s Coronavirus Information website addresses many concerns about housing, quarantine, coursework, research, finance, international travel, health, the University's operations, etc.

Below are additional resources related to international students and scholars. This page contains general information only, and is not intended as legal advice to any individual.  Legal advice can be provided only by an attorney directly representing an individual client.  If you need legal advice, the International Studies Office may be able to help refer you to one.

This is a rapidly changing situation both at UVA and globally.  We will do our very best to keep you informed and will update our advice as needed.  

You are also welcome to email us at issp@virginia.edu, call 434-982-3010, or schedule an online meeting with an advisor through ISSP Connect.

Sections

ISO-ISSP Current Operations

ONLINE ADVISING MEETING

As of March 18, 2020, in-person appointments and advising hours in Minor Hall are suspended until further notice. The International Studies Office continues to provide services to international students and scholars online. The ISO-ISSP team will be available to meet with students via Zoom. Students can schedule to meet with an advisor through ISSP Connect. Select on an advisor with an open time slot and you will be sent Zoom credentials to be able to connect via internet or phone. More information on virtual appointments can be found here.

SUBMITTING IMMIGRATION REQUESTS AND FORMS

All immigration requests need to be submitted online through ISSP Connect

FAQ

When should students who plan to be in Charlottesville for spring 2021 return to the U.S.?

New initial and returning students coming to Charlottesville for spring 2021 should arrive by February 1, 2021.

Can nonimmigrant students participate in online classes from outside the U.S. and still maintain their nonimmigrant status? What about the 5-month rule?

Yes, nonimmigrant students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. Guidance from Fall 2020 has extended to Spring 2021. Students who are enrolled in a full-course load Spring 2021 will continue to remain in legal status even outside the United States. Students enrolled full-time for Spring 2021 do not need to worry about the five-month rule.  SEVP will provide updated guidance as additional information concerning the scope and length of this situation becomes clearer. More information can be found here, PDF

Will students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19? Does the 5-month rule affect this?

Students enrolled full-time for Spring 2021 do not need to worry about the five-month rule. Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, nonimmigrant students should refer to their local U.S. embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and CDC websites both provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

How can I get my travel signature?

F-1 students will submit the "I-20 Reprint Request" form located on our Forms page. F-1 students will receive a digitally signed Form I-20. Those on OPT must receive a travel signature every 6 months. 
J-1 students will submit the "DS-2019 Reprint Request" form locatead on our Forms page. We will mail you a new Form DS-2019 with a travel signature via eShipGlobal.
J-1 scholars will submit the "Travel Signature" request on the ISSP Connect - Scholar Portal.  

I am an initial student and will take classes outside of the U.S. for the fall semester, will that time count towards my Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)? 

No, it will not contribute to CPT and OPT eligibility because an initial student’s F-1 status will not be established until they arrive in the U.S.. The exception here is Darden students. 

How can I apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Students interested in applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must file application from within the United States. If you decide to travel outside the United States while your application is pending know that important documentation such as your OPT receipt notice and your OPT employment authorization card will be sent to the U.S. address indicated on your I-765 only. It will not be sent to a foreign address. If you have a trusted friend or relative who will remain in the United States, they can certainly mail important documents to you, but note that it may carry risk or delays (lost in mail, delays in receiving documentation, temporary border closings).

  • To view instructions and apply for OPT, please review our OPT website.

Must students cease engaging in OPT if they are now working fewer than 20 hours a week due to the economic impacts of COVID-19?

For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.

How can I extend my form I-20?

If you will not finish your academic program by the date indicated on your Form I-20, you will need to submit our online extension request found on our Forms page. You will need to communicate with your Faculty Advisor or Associate Dean as this request requires their verification. You will also need to submit financial documents to support your extension. We will mail you your new Form I-20 via eShipGlobal.

I have an offer to work over the summer session. How can I apply for curricular practical training (CPT)?

Students interested in interning over the summer term in the United States must complete a Curricular Practical Training request found on our Forms page. You will first need to communicate with your Faculty Advisor or Career Center (undergrads only, email ipp@virginia.edu) to inform them of your intent to participate in an internship or practical experience over the summer as you are required to register for an internship course.  We will mail you your new Form I-20 via eShipGlobal.

Undergraduate students: If you plan to take UNST 2820 from the Career Center, please click here to read through your additional requirements.

Spring 2021 - New Students

NEW INITIAL STATUS STUDENTS WITH A FORM I-20 BEGINNING SPRING 2021

If you have an intial I-20 and plan to arrive to Charlottesville for Spring 2021

  • You are required to take at least one in-person course at UVA. Nonimmigrant students in New or Initial status will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online. 
  • Please plan to arrive to UVA no later than February 1, 2021.
  • Remember to complete the Immigration Check-in form as soon as you arrive to the United States. 

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 for Spring 2021 and will begin your studies outside the U.S. for Spring 2021 and wish to return to Charlottesville in a future term 

  • Email issp@virginia.edu stating you will remain outside the United States for Spring 2021. 
  • You will need to complete a new “New Student Request” form by mid-Spring 2021. Your current I-20 will be canceled and you will receive a new I-20.
  • You are not required to take at least 12 credits since you will not establish your F-1 visa status in the United States. However, please consult with your academic advisor to ensure you are on track to complete your program. 

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 for Spring 2021 and wish to defer your admission to a future term

  • Please contact the Admissions Office or your Department to defer your enrollment. You do not need to complete a form for our office. ISO will notify you when your updated I-20 has been created. 

Spring 2021 - Current/Returning Students

CONTINUING STUDENTS WITH AN ACTIVE I-20

If you are continuing your studies outside the U.S. for Spring 2021 and plan to return to Charlottesville for Fall 2021

  • You do not need to complete a form for our office. You only need to inform Student Health for Insurance, Dining, Housing/Leasing Office, of your intentions to stay outside the U.S. for Spring 2021 so you do not incur charges that are not applicable to you. 
  • Ensure you have the appropriate travel signature on your Form I-20 before your return Spring 2021. You can request a travel signature by completing the "I-20 Reprint Request" form on our Forms page
  • Please continue to check this page for updates as immigration notices are subject to change.

If you are enrolled in courses during the Spring 2021 term

  • Enrollment in online-only courses is permitted. Your F-1 status will continue to be 'Active' as long as you remain registered for at least 12 credits. 

If you will complete your academic program Spring 2021 and wish to enroll in less than 12 credits

  • Complete our "Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request" form on our Forms page

If you do not wish to enroll in classes during the Spring 2021 term

  • Please complete our "Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Request" form on our Forms page and contact your academic department. You will need to depart the United States, if you have not already. 
    • Taking a leave of absence for the Spring 2021 term resets employment eligibility clock as your I-20 will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. All students require one academic year to apply for CPT or OPT benefits unless employment is a required part of your program. 

GRADUATE STUDENTS WITH ASSISTANTSHIPS

You must return to the United States no later than Monday, February 1. 

Spring 2021 Requirements for Students Arriving in Charlottesville from Outside the U.S.

This information is subject to change based on evolving public health measures. 

Summary of Requirements

  • The Spring 2021 Arrival Survey is now closed. Please report your arrival information including arrival date in the U.S.; arrival date in Charlottesville; housing (on or off-grounds) and any other information you wish to share to HoosAbroad@virginia.edu 
  • Air passengers are required to get a viral test within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result to their airline. 
  • Students are required to take a COVID saliva PCR test upon arrival in Charlottesville/Albemarle area. 
  • NEW - Students arriving on or after January 26, 2021 must quarantine for seven days. 
  • NEW - Students are required to test again at UVA’s Walk-In Saliva Testing sites during days 3 – 5 of quarantine. 

Please read the details for each step below and direct all related questions to HoosAbroad@virginia.edu.

New Seven Day Quarantine Requirement for Students Arriving from Abroad On or After January 26, 2021

Consistent with updated Centers for Disease Control guidance, students arriving from outside of the U.S. on or after January 26, 2021 must quarantine upon arrival and remain in quarantine for seven days before accessing UVA Grounds and moving into UVA Housing (unless your spring housing assignment is a single room with private bathroom.) Students may begin the semester remotely and participate in virtual programming from quarantine. 

Students are still required to take a COVID saliva PCR test upon arrival in Charlottesville/Albemarle area (more details below) during their quarantine. 

COVID-19 Test Requirement for All Air Passengers Entering the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notice published on January 12, 2021 states “Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger”

This order was signed by the CDC Director on January 12, 2021 and will become effective on January 26, 2021More information can be found here.

Students are still required to take a COVID saliva PCR test upon arrival in Charlottesville/Albemarle area (more details below).

Prior to Arrival

Students should take extra precautions to minimize their risk of exposure for 14 days before returning to Charlottesville.  Extra precautions to minimize risk of exposure means the student should stay home, separate from others outside the home, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.  These are protective measures that limit exposure to individuals who may be infected with COVID-19 and can transmit the virus.

If a student is unable to stay home, it is essential that the student minimize contact with others during this period.  Students should be vigilant in physical distancing (maintaining at least a six-foot distance between the student and others), using a face covering, washing hands frequently, refraining from touching their face without washing hands first. 

Upon Arrival

All students arriving in Charlottesville for the spring semester from outside of the U.S. are required to receive a COVID saliva PCR test immediately upon arrival on Grounds or in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area and quarantine for seven days. The quarantine requirement is in effect starting January 26, 2021, per CDC guidance. 

Quarantine Protocol for Students Living On-Grounds (UVA Housing) 

If students cannot stay away from others in their on-Grounds housing (e.g., would need to share a bedroom and bathroom), they will be assigned to University pre-arrival quarantine housing at no additional cost. Meals will be delivered from UVA dining services two times per day throughout the seven-day quarantine period (charged to student meal plans at a level commensurate with the meal plan type.) Students will need to stay in their assigned space, separate from others outside the space, and monitor their health for the seven-day period of self-quarantine. To request I/Q space, please report your arrival date in the U.S.; arrival date in Charlottesville; housing (on or off-grounds) and any other information you wish to share to HoosAbroad@virginia.edu

Please contact Student Health & Wellness promptly if you have any symptoms of COVID. 434-924-5362 (Business Hours). 434-297-4261 (After Hours).  

Quarantine Protocol for Students Living Off-Grounds 

Students must physically distance themselves from others in their off-Grounds location for the duration of the seven-day quarantine period. If you are unable to maintain physical distancing in your off-Grounds location, you may request assignment to University Isolation/Quarantine (I/Q) space at no additional cost. To request I/Q space, please report your arrival date in the U.S.; arrival date in Charlottesville; housing (on or off-grounds) and any other information you wish to share to HoosAbroad@virginia.edu

While in quarantine, please contact Student Health & Wellness promptly if you have any symptoms of COVID. 434-924-5362 (Business Hours). 434-297-4261 (After Hours). 

COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Students Arriving from Outside of the U.S. on or after January 26, 2021 

  1. Receive a COVID saliva PCR test immediately upon arrival on Grounds or in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area at UVA’s Walk-In Saliva Testing sites.

  2. Test again at UVA’s Walk-In Saliva Testing sites during days 3 – 5 of quarantine.  All UVA students have appointment days and times for prevalence testing preloaded in the scheduling app.  If your preloaded time is not within days 3 - 5 of your quarantine period, you should cancel that appointment and reschedule for a day within days 3 -5 of your quarantine.  If you cannot find an appointment during that time span, visit UVA’s Walk-In Saliva Testing site at Scott Stadium on a walk-in basis (no appointment needed).

In all cases, you must be tested at least once per week (Monday – Sunday period) to meet the University’s prevalence testing requirements.  Questions about prevalence testing may be directed to Prevalence-Test@virginia.edu.

ISO Letter Verifying UVA's Spring 2021 Operation

If you would like a letter from ISO verifying that UVA is not operating entirely online, you may download a copy here

Summary of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders 

Presidential Executive Order of April 22, 2020 Limiting Immigration

Our international community is understandably concerned when a new Executive Order (EO) or Proclamation is issued by the White House.  A plain reading of the Proclamation indicates that in its implementation there is no impact on nonimmigrants in terms of status, barring entry, or in the processing of applications and benefits.  The direct impact of this EO is upon immigrant petitioners outside the U.S.

Outside counsel offfers the following analysis of the EO:

"The Proclamation has almost no impact on individuals currently inside the United States:

  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit temporary work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary visa categories including F-1 students attending school in the US or using OPT or CPT .
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary work visa categories.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) is still processing new petitions in all categories, as well as extensions, transfers, or other actions.
  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit green cards already issued to individuals inside the US.
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of green card applications by individuals inside the US.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) is still processing green card applications in all categories."

While this order is not impactful in the way perhaps anticipated, the ISO will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve, noting the following language incorporated into the EO: "Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers."  The full text of the EO can be read here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/

Presidential Proclamation Effective June 24th

The White House has issued a Presidential Proclamation “Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” effective June 24, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020.

  • It only applies to those outside of the US on June 24, 2020, and restricts those individuals seeking to enter the United States in the named categories on new visa stamps issued after June 24, 2020. 
  • It does not impact at all those already in the United States and does not revoke existing visas of individuals who are inside the US in any of the affected categories. 
  • It does not pertain to F-1 students nor impact OPT.
  • It does not apply to J-1 students, professors, research scholars or student interns. Your category can be found on your Form DS-2019
  • It does not impede changes of status to any visa status from within the U.S.

We are including a summary of this Proclamation from our professional association: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/proclamation-suspending-entry-certain-h-j-and-l-nonimmigrants

Fall 2020 Guidance From SEVP

As a result of the suit brought by Harvard and MIT, on July 14, 2020 the court issued the following statement: The Court was informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution to the combined temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions. The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation. The Government will return to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 policy. This moots the temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions, [ECF Nos. 4, 30], and will preclude enforcement of the July 6, 2020 policy directive and July 7, 2020 FAQ, which are being rescinded on nationwide basis.

International Student Town Hall Recordings

The University and ISO hosted multiple town halls to address international students' concerns and questions. 

Summer 2020 town halls

July 10th Town Hall on SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance (*Transcript)

July 17th Town Hall (*Transcript)

July 24th Town Hall (*Transcript)

July 31st Town Hall

*Transcript tip - use Ctrl+F or Command+F to search for a keyword related to your question